Henson's last chance to impress
June 2, 2011
Gavin Henson will be back in national team colours on Saturday © Getty Images
Gavin Henson says his performance for Wales against the Barbarians in Cardiff this Saturday may lead to his last chance to feature in this year's Rugby World Cup.
Henson, 29, had brief stints with Saracens and Toulon this season, and is currently without a club. For now, the centre has his sights set only on making the Welsh squad bound for New Zealand in September.
He said on Thursday: "It's great to be back. I am over the moon to get this chance - I have really missed it. I feel mentally refreshed. Yes, I would love to come into this match on the back of 20 games under my belt or something, but that's not the case.
"But I have got a chance here, and I will do everything I can on Saturday to hopefully force my way into these August internationals [Wales play England twice and Argentina], and then looking forward to the World Cup.
"At this moment in time, Wales is the most important thing for me. I have never been to a World Cup, and this is my only chance to try to make it right. I want to do everything I can. The World Cup is the biggest stage, and it is something I have missed out on twice. It is a huge driving factor in me - I really want to be on that plane.
"But I have got a lot to do. I am down the pecking order at the moment, which is fair enough. For me, the World Cup is the biggest spectacle, the biggest thing in a rugby career. I've never been to one. I have watched football World Cups a lot, and they are always massive occasions. I don't want to watch this rugby World Cup on television again. I want to be there - I would like to have an influence on the next one."
Henson walked away from rugby in 2009 as part of a self-imposed sabbatical from the game, a decision brought on by a string of injury problems.
Henson added: "For me, it [exile] was definitely the right decision. I feel much better for it. I just couldn't carry on, mentally, the way I was before. I have got my hunger and drive back, and you need that in rugby. You can't play without it. I think Saturday is going to feel like a first cap for me.
"Having had two years out of the game, there were times when I thought I would never put the Wales jersey back on, or a rugby jersey at all, so Saturday will be a good feeling. It is massive for me - it all boils down to this one game at the moment."
Henson spoke about his take on this season, and described the nightclub altercation that led to his suspension at Toulon. "Saracens was an avenue for me to get back into rugby. It didn't work out, and I had an injury, then the offer came from Toulon," he said. "I loved every second of it, and I am really disappointed we couldn't work something out with Toulon, but these things happen.
"Looking at further options club-wise, I think I would like to stay down in the south of France, but things change all the time - on a daily basis with me - so we will see. I am always going to come back to Wales and play at some point - my family are here, my kids are here. That's definitely going to happen.
"Whether that is this season coming up, or in a year or two, I am not really sure. Those decisions I am going to have to make pretty soon. I think the French league is an unbelievable league, and I would like to play in it again. It's pretty special when you have 20,000 or 30,000 people watching you play every week.
"For me, it's crazy how things get blown up to the levels that they do, but I should know by now that's how things happen. Reflecting back on that night, it was just a clash of personalities. We sorted it out man to man, it wasn't done in public. We are closer for it, and we had a drink a week later together.
"These things go on every week in every rugby club. With the way it happens with me, it gets blown out of all proportion and I have got to live with that and deal with that. Half the stuff reported was totally untrue. We sorted it out man to man, and that was it. I get on well with all the [Toulon] players."
Henson is taking nothing for granted in his return to the international arena, and believes his form for the national team will see his club future determined in due course.
"I am not going to rule anything out. Hopefully, there is a job for me somewhere. I wouldn't rule out playing in Wales next year. Obviously, I've got a strong allegiance with the Ospreys. They have always been my club, and I would like to give them first option. I would like to think they would take me back on if I did come back to Wales, but if not, I will look somewhere else."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton
Kiwi coaches can be found far and wide across the globe, and Murray Mexted believes the All Blacks benefit every bit as much as their rivals
Clermont, Toulon, player burnout, Sam Burgess and a farewell to Adams Park - Monday Maul looks back at the weekend's action
The latest Week in Pictures takes in some original ways of welcoming teams to the field and plenty of tries from the European Champions Cup